Monday, December 31, 2007

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

By Zebriod (c) 2007

Always go to any interview with prepared questions to ask. Always ask questions; the quality of your questions is as important as how you answer questions!

-What do you consider ideal background and experience for this position? If you get an opportunity early ask this question, it sets you up to correctly answer all following questions.

Prepare questions in these 3 categories:

Questions about the job / opportunity
Questions about the company
Questions about the interviewer

Sample Questions:
-What would you expect me to achieve in the first 6 months?
-Is there anything I can tell you about my qualifications that I haven’t said yet?
-What are the principal challenges I would face in this job?
-What results would you like me to produce?
-Based on what I’ve told you, don’t you think I could deliver all you need in this position? (Closing Question)
-What goals do you have for the territory in the next 12 months? What do you think it will take to get the territory to those numbers?
- Is this a new/existing/revised job? If it's new/revised, why was it created?
-What are the principal challenges facing your staff right now?
- Where does this position fit within the company's structure?
-Can you give me more detail about the position's responsibilities?
- With whom does a person in this position interact?
- Is there an opportunity for growth and advancement? If so, what other career opportunities might be open to me here?

-What future plans does the company have?
-What are the challenges the company is facing?
-What's the culture like? What are the values?
-How would you describe the atmosphere of this department?

-How long have you been with the company?
- What has your career path been?
-Are there any concerns you have about me filling the position? (Closing Question)
-Can I count on your recommendation for the next step? (Closing Question)
-For initial interviews: Where do we go from here? Can we set that up right now? (Closing Question)
-For final interviews: Where do we go from here? When can I start? (Closing Question)

What Makes For a Good Resume?

by Zebriod (c) December 2007

1. Don't use tables; I scream every time I see an overly complicated tabled resume! Resume are distributed via email and we rarely see a printed resume any more. The resume must look good on a screen first. Secondly tables over complicate the resume and make it too busy.
2. The purpose of a resume is to get you the interview! Not to be the best historical document of your life! No one reads any more, the best you can hope for is someone to scan read it; you better make every word count. Once you get in-front of the hiring manager we will worry about getting to the next step.
3. Make every word count. It is a good goal to get it on one page, (and that is the case when you have had a 25 year career or are only just starting out.) Allocate more space to the most relevant and more recent stuff; don't be put off by creating a specially tailored version of your resume for each job opportunity. A resume has three main components:
(i) Features - these are dates, companies and titles;
JP Morgan Chase, Dec 2002 - Present Vice President, Global Trading Foreign Exchange
(ii) Education - This can be placed at the start or at the end depending on how stellar it is. If you have a P.hD why not highlight it.
(iii) Accomplishment at each position; Avoid long paragraphs, attempt to use action words to describe your accomplishments using bullets, it is all about what you can do for the next company!
4. Don't Clog it up. I hate the poor pitch a lot of people add under "Objectives" or "Skill" and clog up the resume - don't do it.... Do you think anyone believes you when the resume says "good communicator" "good team player" etc... this is just hot air. If you feel the urge to do this spend the time drafing a good cover letter.

Example: (formatting is lost)

First Surname
1500 May Blvd. Arlington VA 22201 ♦ (900) 367-8614 ♦

University School of Law, Atlanta, GA
Juris Doctor Degree, May 2002. Highest Grade in Dispute Resolution
Moot Court, Intellectual Property. Emory Award Scholarship
London School of Economics, London, England
Masters in Economics, June 1999
Graduated With Distinction. London Friends Scholarship
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and Economics, May 1998
Graduated Summa Cum Laude. Margaret C. Peabody Fellowship. W. C. Rockefeller Grant

Bar Memberships
Admitted to the New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. Bar Associations, eligible to waive into Massachusetts
Law firn, L.L.P., Washington D.C. August 2003 - Present
· Research and writing in government procurement, international contracts, corporate structuring, export and intellectual property law
· Litigated before the Government Accountability Office and Court of Federal Claims regarding organizational conflicts of interest and corporate compliance issues
· Reviewed contracts for joint venture between two film studios and litigated against claims of dilution and misappropriation of commercial likeness
· Drafted negotiated license rights for software package to be sold to the Department of Defense
· Negotiated assignment of rights of multi-media software from Swedish based entertainment company to major U.S. entertainment consulting group
· Advised international clients on Buy American Act, Trade Agreement Act, Berry Amendment
· Litigated claims of trademark infringement and deceptive trade practice for website based company regarding video streaming of news and entertainment clips
· Defended music company product line and packaging from trade dress infringement claims

US Corporate Inc., New York, NY and Newark, NJ January 2003 – August 2003
Assistant General Counsel
· Worked exclusively with client regarding licensing, trademark/domain litigation
· Drafted shareholder agreements, employment / consulting contracts, non-disclosure agreements, licensing and sub-licensing contracts for data rights, manuals and software tutorials
· Filed company trademark and assisted with patent provisionals
· Drafted proposals for STTR, SBIR and DARPA regarding portable medical devices funding

Law firm, P.C., New York, NY and West Orange, NJ May 2002 – January 2003
· Drafted performance and payment bond documents for surety entities
· Litigated state and city contractual claims on behalf of construction companies working in NY

Publications: Contributor, ……………………..

Language Skills: Spanish; German (conversational); learning Russian

Friday, December 28, 2007

Preparing for that meeting with your Boss!

By Zebriod (c) 2007

Imagine your Boss quits and you want his job!

So the big Boss has a few decisions to make, find an outside replacement, promote someone or do the job themselves. But you think you are the best candidate and you want the opportunity, so how best to go about it?

Well first don’t think you’ll get the job by sitting back and doing nothing! Also don’t think you’ll get it by demanding it. It is true the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but not normally in this situation, and if it works you have started off on the wrong foot.

Step 1: So ask for a meeting and prepare for the meeting.

Step 2: The preparation.
The chances are that the Boss will know a little about you but not enough to consider you as qualified or desirable. Therefore consider rule 1:

Rule 1:
It is all about them not about you!
You have to set out how you can help them and why your skills, experiences and stability are right for the job. But how do you do this? It is easy to say “I’m a company man” or “I’m a team player” but will this be credible?

Rule 2:
Avoid statements, wrap skills and experiences in specific personnel accomplishments that demonstrate how and why you benefit them. This requires you to sit down and write up each of your accomplishments and extract the benefit the accomplishment demonstrates. It is hard work but it pays off every time.

Rule 3: Don’t forget Rule 1. No me me me….. it is all about them.

Step 3: The meeting. The chances he will need to know why you have asked for the meeting so he too can prepare, in which case you should tell him, carefully. Once in the meeting here are some things to remember:
- Display good listening skills with good eye contact, good posture and energy. Never over speak the boss.
- Use a question to answer a question. This helps avoid being too opinionated which can be dangerous. We don’t want to be a yes man, but we don’t want to make a mistake either.
- Remember rule 1! You should be exhausted after a meeting like this, lots of brain power is needed.

The nine rules of good interviewing:

By Zebriod (c) 2007

Rule 1. It is all about them. How can you benefit them

Rule 1b. No Me Questions.

Rule 2. Do your homework. Blessed will be those that do their homework!

Rule 3. Listening is harder and more important.
We were given two ears and only one mouth.

Rule 4. Keep the length of your answers not to short not too long, just right. Don’t bore the interviewer!

Rule 5. Avoid general statements, use accomplishments to highlight benefits you bring.

Rule 6.
Be positive at all times.

Rule 7. Always be prepared to ask questions.

Rule 8. Keep it relevant at all times.

Rule 9.
Never forget Rule 1

ABC’s of good Interviewing.

By Zebriod (c) 2007

A. Your perspective.
An interview is hard work and you must be prepared. However let’s understand what you are trying to accomplish. You want to answer the following three questions:
Do you understand the opportunity
Can you do the job, and
Do you want the job?
We can flip these and easy understand what the interviewer is trying to accomplish!

B. The basics.
Never forget the basics. That is know where you have to be, be there 15 minutes early, be prepared (know all you can about the interviewers and company), be smart, and have clean shoes. And above all be respectful.

People hire people they like, people like people with energy. So have good posture, eye contact, listening skills! and use words such as contribute, enhance, and improve in your responses.

C. Be prepared for the Ice-breakers.
Over 80% of interviews start off with an icebreaker like “tell me about yourself”. These are dangerous and you need to be on guard. Interviews are rarely interested in you to the extent that they are will to sit a listen to where you grew up and irrelevant stories – so we have to keep it relevant at all times. So how do you answer it? You need to do some homework.

Prepare your own marketing statement the night before. Everyone needs this at all times, it is sometimes referred to as your elevator speech or pitch. Imagine you get caught in the elevator with the boss between floors; you would not want to miss the opportunity…

This is what it looks like, prepare a 3 part statement:
Part 1 – One sentence summary of career to date.
Part 2 – Accomplishment you are proud of that will capture the employer’s attention.
Part 3 – One sentence summary of what you want to do next in your career.

Example “I’ve had 16 years of experience in the industry while serving as a {job title} with company ABC for the last five years. While at ABC, I led the successful {accomplishment} which resulted in us achieving {bottom line impact…saving money, saving time, awards/recognition}. For my next career move, I desire to move to a company with more prestige where I can continue to add value for the long term.”

Tips. We always need to do our homework and this statement is a good demonstration. Part 1 needs to be relevant and most people have to work at making this short, easy to ramble on here – the interviewer is not interested.

Part 2 is very telling, prepare as many accomplishments from your career as possible, select the best for your marketing statement and use the remainder through out the interview to answer other question. For example if you get a skill question “what do you know about ..?” You can have a specific accomplishment that highlights your knowledge.

Part 3 allows you to answer “why am I here and why you should hire me?” right up front. Don’t miss the chance.

**An Extra Tip: If given the opportunity to ask a question at the very beginning of the interview – Ask, “What exactly are you looking for in a (title of position)?” Listen Carefully! You should target the rest of your interview answers so that they cover what the hiring manager’s response was to that question.

D. How to answer behavioral questions.

You are going to get many questions in interviews that are skill, knowledge or behavioral based. For example, what’s the most difficult situation you ever faced on a job?

Answer questions with examples, so you will be glad you did your homework. Remember rule 1 – it is all about them, how do you joining them benefit them? How do your previous accomplishments and experiences benefit them?
One way you want to think of this answer using the SOAR or STAR principles.

Situation Situation
Obstacle Task
Action Action
Result Result

“I was in this situation, I was given this task, I took the following actions and result was…”

See how all the accomplishments you prepared for your marketing statement will be very useful?

Each discipline will have their own skill requirement so be prepared, we can’t cover that here but all employers are looking for the same three things:

Skills, Experience and Stability

But be prepared to highlight the “intangible” using accomplishments. Saying you are a “good team player, good communicator, hard worker, cultural fit, internally motivated” with no context is hollow.

E. Be ready to ask good questions.

When finally the interviewer will ask “have you any questions for me?” The wrong answer is “No”. Interviewers like to talk about themselves and they get as much out of you questions as the answer to their questions.

Prepare questions in these 3 categories:
Questions about the job / opportunity
Questions about the company, however never ask something that is publicly available.
Questions about the interviewer, how about testing them with “tell me about yourself”

Sample Questions:
-What would you expect me to achieve in the first 6 months?
-Is there anything I can tell you about my qualifications that I haven’t said yet?
-What are the principal challenges I would face in this job?

Should you be linked in?

Should you be linked in? What is your online presence? You may need a New Year's resolution – get an online presence by joining a social network!

There are so many social networks now, which should tell us something; they are very popular, and popularity leads to the commoditization. So how do you choose where to spend your effort? And are they really worth it?

The goal is for us each to enhance and manage our online visibility not just connect to people. That said, one does need to exercise discrimination. I don’t know them all, but here is a partial list: Viadeo, Doostang, Facebook, Ecademy, Xing, Twitter, Linkedin, Orkut, JibberJobber, Myspace, Plaxo, Spoke…. (Underlined indicates ones I use)

[LinkedIn has over 16mm members, and most IT and Finance Professionals have already joined. Why are Lawyers’ slow adopters of these sites?]

Like many people I have never worked to develop and maintain my own network. If it was not for my wife I could barely send out 5 Christmas cards. She on the other hand has kept the same Christmas card book for the past 20 years, and from this she sends through snail mail several hundred cards each year. Each year she marks the book for each card sent and received. If she sends you a card three times without getting one back – you are dinged next year!

We all know that the kids are addicted to MySpace! Did you notice that Microsoft bought a 1.6% stake in Facebook for $240m – this values a small start up at 15 BILLION. This is nearly as much as Google was valued at when it went public!

In November of 2006 I accepted someone’s invite to “LinkedIn”, I visited the site, but I really did not get it. They don’t make it easy; these networks are not MySpace which will accept just about anyone. You actually have to work at it and it initially is not obvious how to build your network. You actually have to link to people you know. This summer (2007), when I decided to put some effort in, the picture became clear. Not only have I reached out and connected with almost everyone with whom I have worked with over the last 25 years, I feel for the first time to be ahead of my wife and I understand why Microsoft overpaid for a small three year old start-up. This is a huge shift and we can't allow ourselves to fall behind.

I really like Facebook, but it is not for business. My daughter and I have even stopped using email to communicate, we use Facebook (feel free to visit my Facebook, excellent site for close personal friends.
For business, is the place to be. It takes a lot of work to build your network but it is worth it. Visit my profile at (

Plaxo is a site aggregator – can be used to manage all the others therefore it is worth watching for the future, the interface is nice too.

[Note: Everyone needs to manage their profile on or they will do it for you.]

**** Happy New Year ****

By Zebriod © 2007
Raymond May